The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

Junior Katherine Chernykh takes first in Poetry Out Loud competition

Katherine Chernykh
Katherine Chernykh’s talent for performing doesn’t end with spoken poetry; she also recently performed in Woodside’s spring musical!

The 2023 Poetry Out Loud competition provides the  opportunity for students to explore the performative side of poetry beyond the classroom, and junior Kate Chernykh proves no exception. As a first-time competitor, this Wildcat has already taken home the gold for this regional competition. 

“I originally entered because my English teacher told us about it,” Chernykh said. “It was for a little bit of extra credit, but then I researched it, and I [thought,] I kind of do like poetry, so I’ll give it a go.”

The risk certainly paid off for Chernykh, as she walked away with a first place award. The first section of the competition focused entirely on poetry recitation, as judges assessed the presentation of a student’s poem of choice. 

“I had to memorize two poems,” Chernykh said. “I chose ‘I felt a Funeral, in my Brain’ by Emily Dickinson, and ‘Echo’ by Daryl Hine.”

Memorization is only a part of the battle, as judges give scores based on several factors: accuracy, presence, articulation, understanding, and more. In order to effectively prepare for her performance, as well as learn to beat the nerves, the Poetry Out Loud contest provided support. 

“I met with a coach that POL [Poetry Out Loud] assigned to me,” Chernykh explained. “It was kind of nerve wracking, because [it was the first time] I’d presented or read poetry to people, and there were poet laureates at this convention as well… [But] everyone was very supportive.” 

Chernykh’s involvement with the competition is not over yet, however. The next section of the Poetry Out Loud competition requires students to share an original poem, written and recited by them. Chernykh is up for the challenge. 

“I wrote [my poem] for an event at the Burlingame Library,” Chernykh said. “It’s called ‘Dead Name.’ I wrote about a true event that happened to my little sister’s best friend; she got bullied for being trans. I wrote about her situation because… it really hit our family hard.”

The first leg of the competition took place primarily online, with participants sending their entries in through video recordings. However, when Chernykh qualified as a finalist, she was left waiting for the live result.

“I was on Zoom,” Chernykh said. “We had our cameras off when … I got a notification that the host requested my camera to go on.”

 As the third and second place winners were called, and Chernykh could hardly suppress her excitement as she was called for first. 

“I freaked out and I had to say a speech, but I didn’t have anything prepared,” Chernykh said. “So I was like, ‘Oh, thank you.’ And then I thought I’d turn my camera off, but I didn’t. I started screaming and running around, [and] everyone saw that.”

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